OMAHA, NE – Speaking out today against Nebraska’s death penalty, religious leaders representing the largest church denominations in Nebraska said Christians recognize that humans are fallible and that Government does not need to take a life to protect society.
Religious leaders from the Roman Catholic, Evangelical, and United Methodist churches helped kick off a 10-day, 20-city statewide tour addressing alternatives to the death penalty.Rev. Stephen Griffith, a retired United Methodist pastor and Executive Director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty said the majority of religious traditions have strong positions against the death penalty.
“Nebraska faith communities opposed to the death penalty include the Roman Catholic Church, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the American Baptist Conference, The Episcopal Church, The Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Judaism and others,” Griffith said.
Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing, an organization led by murder victims family members, death row exonerees, and the family members of death row inmates, will blanket the state from Omaha to Scottsbluff on a 10-day, 20 city caravan July 15-24.
“Religious leaders across Nebraska are opening their doors to speakers from the Journey of Hope… from Violence to Healing who are sharing their personal stories of forgiveness, redemption, and how they have been harmed by the broken death penalty system,” Griffith said.
“I know that Nebraskans of faith are greatly concerned about the death penalty and these forums will be a chance for them to learn about the issue and get involved in the effort to retain the repeal of the death penalty.”
Fr. Dennis Hamm, S.J., of Omaha, said the Catholic Church is deeply committed to ending the use of the death penalty.
“The Church’s position has been articulated as a priority by the Nebraska Bishops as well as the three most recent Popes,” Hamm said.
“Catholic Churches around Nebraska are opening up their doors to Journey of Hope speakers because we recognize the importance of informing our parishioners about the failings of Nebraska’s death penalty system, and the Church’s teaching that we don’t need to resort to taking life to protect society.”
Rev. Bill Thornton, of Lincoln, director of Pastoral Ministry Department at Nebraska Christian College said: “As an Evangelical leader, I’m opposed to the death penalty because it cuts off the possibility that a person will receive the Grace of Christ.”
“I’m not alone. Last year, the National Association of Evangelicals reversed our 40 year position in support of the death penalty. Capital punishment in the U.S. doesn’t bear any resemblance to what the Bible describes. Christians recognize that humans are fallible and ultimate punishment should be reserved for God. As a person of Faith I’m concerned about Nebraska executing an innocent person,” Thornton said.
Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing speaker, SueZann Bosler, the daughter of a murder victim, said her father, a minister, was murdered and they attempted to kill her.
“Answering violence with more violence isn’t the solution. Nebraska’s death penalty is a false promise to murder victims’ families,” Bosler said.
Shujaa Graham, a death row exoneree, said: “I am living proof that the system makes mistakes, we can’t guarantee we won’t execute an innocent person.”
Source: Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, July 15, 2016. NADP was founded in 1981 after Governor Thone had vetoed a bill passed by Nebraska’s unicameral legislature that would have repealed the death penalty in Nebraska. Since its founding, it has been a politically active organization that has supported death penalty abolition efforts in the Nebraska legislature.
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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde